By Emma Amaize
WARRI â€” ITSEKIRIÂ Regional Develop-ment Committee (IRDC), created by the NNPC/Chevron Joint Venture for sustainable development of Itsekiri communities close to the operation areas of Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) in Delta State, has successfully completed 45 development projects.
The projects, such as housing units, concrete jetties, walkways and town halls are spread across 14 communities, includingÂ Obaghoro, Ugborodo, Usor, Bateren, Gbokoda, Omadina, Jakpa, Sagharatie, Eghoro, Ebrohimi, Ajudaibo, Madan-gho, Ogidigben and Deghele.
They were commissioned from 3-5 December by Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, who was represen-ted by his Special Adviser on Oil and Gas,Â Barrister David Ekereakosu.
Investigations showed that the 45 projects were executed by indigenous Itsekiri contractors with funds provided to the IRDC by Chevron in an effort to empower the indigenes of the oil communities.
At Jakpa, where a multi-purpose hall was commiss-ioned,Â Governor Uduaghan commended IRDC and CNL for their commitment to the implementation of a Global Memorandum of Understan-ding (GMoU) and bringing development as well as peace to Delta State communities in line with the three-point agenda of the state government.
He said â€œwe will be commissioning several projects initiated by Itsekiri RDC and built by contractors from our communities because we have peace, because we dialogue and because we have provided the enabling environment for business activities to thrive in the state.
â€œI urge everybody to sustain these because development will only take place in an environment where there is peace.â€
The governor also thanked Chevron and Itsekiri RDC for partnering with the state government to implement its three-point agenda of infrastructural development, human capital development and peace and security.
He charged other oil multinationals operating in the Niger-Delta to follow Chevronâ€™s approach to accelerating development of oil bearing communities close to their operations.
In his response, Mr. Mofe Pirah, IRDC chairman, said the modest achievements by Itsekiri RDC was because of the support it got from Governor Uduaghan and Chevronâ€™s regular funding.
According to him, â€œthe town hall and 44 other projects completed are among the 82 infrastructural projects we awarded contracts for in 2008.
â€œI am glad that a year after the contracts were awarded, more than half of the projects are being commissioned, while the remaining projects will be ready for commissio-ning early next year.â€
Pirah said the IRDC has also initiated economic empower-ment and human capital building activities, such as a N60 million credit scheme for women and skill acquisition training programmes for the youths, in collaboration with Chevron.
He added that â€œover 250 women in 23 communities that make up IRDC have benefitted from the micro-credit scheme and plan is already completed to extend the facility to other women next year.â€
For the rate of development of Itsekiri communities to be sustained, the IRDC chairman called on Itsekiri people to ensure peace and security in Itsekiri land, saying â€œif there is no peace for Chevron to operate, we will not get the fund to develop our communi-ties. The fund we get from Chevron may be affected if we do not protect its property.
â€œConsequently, I want us to support Chevron’s operation in our communities by ensuri-ng a peaceful environment and protecting its property.â€